Erasmus project – the best adventure of our lives!!!

Day 1

Our adventure began on Monday, March 13, within the walls of the Third High School in Tarnów. The speech by the Headmaster – Mr Jan Ryba inaugurated the first meeting of the newly met group. Then each school introduced its students and teachers. This allowed us to get to know each other and learn a lot of interesting information about our project partners. 

After that each school participating in the exchange gave a presentation on environmental problems in their country. We got acquainted with the problems that took place in different parts of our planet and ways to improve the existing ecological conditions. We understood how much pollution there is in the world and it opened our eyes to how important it is to take care of the environment together – we must work together to save the Earth. 

After all the presentations made by the students from each country about the impact of pollution on the environment, we began to get to know each other through the game “Find somebody who …”. Each of us had to find a person who, for example, spoke at least three languages, had been abroad before, etc. This helped us to break the ice so that further activities could be held in a much warmer atmosphere.

At 11:00 a.m. we started the city game „Tarnów – our city and its environmental problems,” the purpose of which was to familiarize local people with the project and the participants with the city where they were staying. During the game the players visited some well-known Tarnów sites in groups of several people consisting of the coordinators and game participants. The participants had to solve various interactive tasks, which often required the knowledge of the topic of climate change or at least a conversation with city residents. The coordinators, on the other hand, had to control the course of the game and prevent the groups from cheating or acting unfairly. We took such measures due to the fact that the whole event was in the form of a competition, in which each group fought against each other to get the highest score in the best possible time. It should  also be mentioned that this competition was time-limited, which meant that we had to hurry to complete the tasks at locations far away from each other. And these included the Bima of the Tarnów Synagogue, the Market Square, Seklers Gate, etc. All the fun brought a lot of excitement to the participants, stimulated them physically and let them get to know each other due to the random arrangement of the groups. The official end came at around 1 pm when all the groups returned to the starting point, i.e. the school. 

When the city game was over, we started the next activity, which was creating posters entitled ‘Climate Change’. We were paired up and for an hour all the students tried to create the best possible artwork on the theme of environmental protection. A day later, all the paintings were used to create an exhibition in the school corridors so that all students could see and learn about the danger our world is currently in.

Day 2 

On Tuesday, the second day of our exchange activities, we took part in the excursion covering two locations. The first was the capital of Małopolska Province – Kraków – one of the most polluted cities in Europe. After arriving at our destination, together with our guide, we began viewing the exhibits of the Armory located at the Wawel Royal Castle. We were able to observe and listen to how the ways of fighting and the weapons used for it have changed over the centuries. Another highlight of our trip was a tour of the city under the watchful eye of the guide who also showed us the destructive influence of smog on its residents  and the ways of dealing with it. While walking, our first stop was the dragon of the  Wawel Castle, located just at the foot of the castle, which, according to legend, lived right there. Then walking along Grodzka Street, full of colorful tenement houses, we arrived at the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, where we could see the impressive work of architecture. Then we went to the Main Square, which was also the largest medieval market in Europe. We then had a moment to buy a traditional Kraków delicacy called 'Obwarzanek’, take some pictures of the monument of the Polish national writer, Adam Mickiewicz in the center of the market, walk along the famous shopping arcade located in the Cloth Hall or buy some souvenirs. After a while, our group with the guide went to the Gallery of 19th Century Polish Art located in the Cloth Hall. We had the opportunity to see live some of the finest works of Polish culture, such as the painting „The Prussian Homage” by Jan Matejko and the painting by Henryk Siemiradzki „Nero’s Torches”, which was the first work donated to this museum. We learned many details from behind the scenes of the creation of selected paintings. The next point on our tour was St. Mary’s Church, which is the landmark of Kraków’s market square. The guide carefully discussed and explained the history of the creation of the most important point of the monument, which is the altar made by Wit Stwosz in the 15th century, that we had the opportunity to admire up close. The possibility of close contact with such an important element of Polish culture was an unforgettable experience for all the tour participants. After visiting St. Mary’s Church, the whole group went to the restaurant for lunch, which was the last point of our walk through the capital of Malopolska.

Then we went to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, where, traversing the tourist route, we watched the beautiful underground chambers and learned what ancient mining tools and machines were used in the past to transport and extract salt. Moreover, we also found out about  the key environmental impacts of mining  on the wildlife,  water balance and local climate in the area where the mine is located. During the tour we climbed almost 800 steps, however, it was worth it, because nowhere else would we have been able to see St. Kinga’s Chapel or such beautiful salt lakes.

Day 3 

We started the third day with a biology lesson on the environment, prepared by Igor Banek and Prof. Bernadeta Borowicz. We expanded our knowledge of bioindicators and lichens, which will allow us to recognize the level of pollution in the air, water and soils. After Igor’s lecture, our friend Gabriela gave a short talk on healthy cosmetics instead of chemicals.

After that there was also a chemistry workshop “How are our everyday lives affected by chemicals?” organized by Prof. Krzysztof Golonka and the students of our school from classes 2C and 3C, during which we performed some interesting experiments, such as the Tollens test and the detection of starch in everyday foods. We also had the opportunity to make our own bath balls in a variety of colors and scents.

Then, turning into fashion designers, we started preparing for the Eco Fashion Show. We had to create the sketches of the outfits we would present on Friday on the eco catwalk. We tried to distribute the duties fairly to all the members of each group as well as draw attention to their workmanship – only from eco-friendly materials.

After an hour of buoyant preparations that unleashed our artistic spirits, it was time to act as teachers. In groups of five, we conducted English lessons. Through play, we tried to convey as much information as possible about environmental protection to the students of 8 different classes, which turned out to be great fun for not only the students but also us. 

After a lunch break, we went to the bowling alley where both we and the coordinators had a great time while competing and learning about each other’s traditions and customs.

Day 4 

On Thursday, March 16, we went on the second of the scheduled excursions. The destination of our trip was Zakopane. The first place we visited was the Nature Education Center, where we had the opportunity to learn about the nature of the Tatra Mountains and how the area was exploited by human activities in the past and their bad influence on the environment. Our attention was especially drawn to the footage illustrating the dangerous consequences of a lack of caution while in the mountains. After viewing the exhibition, we went on foot to the ski jump. This was a special attraction for our foreign guests. Zakopane’s characteristic climate was also felt during a walk in the Strążyska Valley. The rays of sunlight lightly piercing through the snow-covered branches allowed us to forget about fatigue for a while. To everyone’s delight, we ended the walk with a break to eat lunch. The last point of the day was a walk along Krupówki Street, during which the project participants had the opportunity to buy some souvenirs and taste some typical regional delicacies, including ‘Oscypek’. In the late afternoon we set off on our return trip. Despite the intensive day, on the coach we could hear  some conversations on many interesting topics. It was an adventurous day, which will certainly remain in our memories for years to come.

Day 5 

On the fifth day of the exchange, March 17, we had the pleasure of participating in the English Song Concert For Earth. As it is always held in February, this year it was rescheduled to coincide with such an important event as our international project. Three project participants took part in the competition: Hilal Ceylin Yolaçıcı and Hayrunnisa Dağ from Turkey, and Roșu Maria Teodora from Romania. The jury also included one of the coordinators and a project participant. The competition featured the songs familiar to everyone, including „Shallow” and „I see the light” from the movie „Tangled.” At the same time, the other exchange participants prepared the decorations in the auditorium for the farewell party, which took place in the late afternoon. After the concert we all gathered in the hall and then another competition was held. This time only among the participants. On Monday, March 13, the 1st day of the exchange, we were tasked with making the environmental posters, which were then displayed on the easels in the corridor of our school. This was done on purpose precisely for the competition, in which we were all to decide which poster was made most beautifully and best reflected the topic. Each participant could cast a vote in the form of small hearts, which we glued under the number of the poster we liked. In this way, two winners were selected, to whom the prizes were handed over during the official part of the farewell party.

After lunch we began preparations for the „Eco Fashion Show”. Ania and Bartek – our presenters discussed the rules and gave the participants some tips on how to make the outfits, which should be aesthetic, imaginative and, most importantly, as ecological as possible. The participants in groups after the preliminary consultations set about preparing the costumes and accessories. Seven groups of five worked for about an hour, and during this time the five students responsible for organizing the event decorated the hall. The show began with a welcome from the coordinators and a talk by the presenters about the very idea of the show. One person from each group was responsible for discussing each outfit, and our models presented them to the rhythm of the pre-selected music. Kasper – our photographer, took pictures  of all the models, and at the very end everyone had the opportunity to walk the catwalk once again and remind the jury of their styles.

After the fashion show was over, we took down the decorations and prepared the room for the farewell party. In the beginning we heard a speech by the Headmaster, and then the presentation of awards and certificates took place. For this occassion a cake had been also ordered, the candles of which were blown out by all the exchange coordinators. However, this was not the end of the adventure. We went to the gymnasium where we taught each other our national dances. Then we returned to the auditorium where some delicacies prepared by the parents of the students of our school were waiting for us. After a while, music rang out from the speakers and all the students began to play together dancing and singing. The coordinators also joined in the fun, keeping pace with the students while boogieing. The party slowly began to come to an end around 6:30 p.m. Of course, there were hugs and tears and warm applause for our dear coordinators.